New Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski took 30 minutes out of his film study sessions and meetings with head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Mark Dominik to meet with the media Tuesday for the first time since he was hired on Jan. 29.
Jagodzinski, 45, has 14 years of college coaching experience and eight years worth of experience in the NFL. He compiled a 20-8 record in two seasons as Boston College's head coach before being fired earlier this year for interviewing for the New York Jets head coaching job.
What are Jagodzinski's impressions of Tampa Bay's offensive personnel after studying film for two weeks? What is his offensive philosophy going to be in terms of running and passing the football? Does he hold any ill will towards Boston College?
PewterReport.com provides this edited Q&A transcript of Jagodzinski's interview from One Buccaneer Place.
Jeff Jagodzinski's opening statement: "I'm excited to be here and be part of this organization. I had a chance to be part of three professional organizations in Green Bay, Atlanta and now Tampa Bay. I feel they are the top three in the league. You take a look at the facilities and what you've got to work with, and you've got everything you need to succeed here."
What can you tell us about the type of offense you will run in Tampa Bay? "Our running game is going to be a downhill and physical. We will run the lead zone, both strong and weak, inside and out, and we'll also run some gap schemes because of the personnel we have. We will run some power gap schemes, which I thought our personnel was very good at last year. We've got a big, physical, strong offensive line, which is one of the strong areas we have on this football team after watching the film for the last two weeks."
Tell us about the zone-blocking scheme. How much different is that going to be compared to what the Bucs have done over the last several years? "Everybody in the league uses it. Sometimes it's thrown around loosely, a lot like the West Coast offense. Really, what is that? The zone scheme is dependent on the whole unit, not just one guy. If you have a block or have a bad block the play is blown up. A positive thing from the particular scheme we're going to run is you really limit negative yardage plays. Even if you get back to the line of scrimmage and it's second-and-10, that's okay. If it's second-and-16 because a guy misses a back block that's not okay. What you want to be doing is always moving forward. In our style running game we can do that. We have some downhill runners here. I was watching Earnest and he's always gaining yards and he played both fullback and halfback. In this system you can play both of those things. We did it in Denver, Atlanta and Green Bay, and now we're going to run it here. It's been proven. I think we can pretty good teachers of it."
What type of offensive linemen do you need to run the zone scheme? Are these guys athletic enough? "I think they are. One of the teams that had done it was the Oakland Raiders. I believe they were ranked down in the 20's [in rushing offense], and they implemented the zone blocking scheme and the next year they were ranked in the top 10. They have some big linemen. It's not so much the scheme, it's how you teach it and drill it that is going to be the difference on how we do it. I have a lot of confidence in doing it because we've been able to do it. It's a good, solid scheme. It's not exclusive. We're still going to have some man schemes and some schemes where we're pulling the guard on power-type stuff, but that will be the emphasis to begin with on how we're going to run the football."
How do you feel about your running back group? "I like Earnest Graham. I had Warrick Dunn in Atlanta, and he was a Pro Bowler the year I had him. He was a good running back, and he's an even better guy with the things he does in the community. I don't think you can ask for a better character guy. He's a good football player, too. [B.J.] Askew will fit real well into our fullback spot. [Byron Storer] did some really good things on film as well. The little guy walking underneath the table here, [Clifton Smith], from what I saw of him I think you can use him in one-on-one routes and get him in open space and get him in some mismatches. I've seen him do some things, and he's got a lot of shake. I think we can use him in some spots. And everybody wants to drive a Cadillac [Williams], don't they?"
Do you prefer power runners in terms of your running scheme? "[Earnest Graham] can do it. He's shown he can do it. I've always seen him when he runs the ball he's always going downhill and gaining yards. You rarely see him get knocked back. He's always going forward. I think that's a good trait for a running back. He played both running back and fullback, so he's a very unselfish guy. He's versatile. I'm excited about him. I'd obviously love to have Cadillac back, but the knee injuries? I don't know. I'll have to wait to get out there and see him on the field. He's a special one."
Does the current crop of quarterbacks fit what you want to do offensively? "Yeah, I believe they do. I like Luke [McCown] the way he moves around. He hasn't played. The one thing I don't get caught up in is statistics. A lot of people want to get caught up in that, but not me. The mark of a good quarterback is does he win? It's not how many yards he throws for. I don't care if he throws for 450 yards and you lose the game. That doesn't matter to me. Does he put his team in the end zone? I think that's also a mark of a good quarterback. [Brian] Griese is a very smart guy. He's been in the league a long time. He ran this system in Denver. In terms of decision making, he's been around the block. Changing protections at the line of scrimmage, he can do that. Josh [Johnson], I just don't know about him. I don't know these guys personally yet, so all I can tell you is what I've seen on film. That double corner fire [Denver] brought to knock Griese out, you can't do that anymore. It's illegal."
How much do you like to stretch the field, and can this offense with its current personnel stretch the field? "I believe they can. It's not so much how it's called, it's when you call it. As far as playcalling is concerned, are you calling the plays at the right time and in the right situation? If you have a strong running game, you're going to get eight guys in the box and you're going to have your opportunity to make some plays downfield. When that happens and the ball is up in the air and it's a 50-50 ball, our guys have to come down with it or nobody. That's just the way we're going to coach that."
When you looked at the quarterbacks and the Bucs decided to bring Luke back, how much input did you have and how much research had you done on him to determine that this guy has the skill sets to do what you want him to do? "It was so limited. We watched a lot of the preseason games. He's not beat up. When you play a young quarterback too soon you can ruin a guy. You guys know the examples of some of the guys who were ruined because they couldn't change protections. He's been around, but he doesn't have a lot of mileage on him. I don't know him. I wish I could tell you this is exactly for sure what is going to happen, but I don't know. Until I have a chance to go out there and work with him and our offensive staff I think we'll get a better feel for him in the next couple of months."
How many quarterbacks do you want to take to camp? "I think four. Four would be good. With five you really don't have a chance to give that guy reps, but if you can get four that works because you have to have the arms to get the ball to the receivers. We have a lot of things we still have to discuss with [general manager] Mark [Dominik] and [head coach [Raheem] Morris and what they think on that. We're going to spend a lot of time at Indy talking about that when we go to the Combine here in the next week. We'll talk about that stuff and personnel, draft prospects and free agents."
Will your passing game be different from what the Bucs have run here? "The West Coast term is thrown out there so much. What is the definition of that? Jon Gruden did a great job. They won a Super Bowl here. My hat is off to him. He is a really good football coach. I was brought up in that system in Green Bay. I was underneath that tree. What I've tried to do is limit the terminology. You can say the same things without saying them with a lot of words. I think it's going to be a lot more player friendly in terms of learning. I don't think it's going to take three years to learn the system. We've had success doing it with a bunch of different types of quarterbacks."
Is your system a West Coast-type of scheme? "I would say there are a lot of principles in it, but there are a bunch of different principles in every offense you watch on Sunday. If you look at other teams they all do some of the same things. This will be a Tampa Bay offense. You'll see it all. I don't think you can lock in on one thing. I think you need to be diverse and find a way to attack the defense."
How bizarre have the last few months been with what you've gone through at Boston College to landing in Tampa Bay? What did you learn from it? "I've never said anything publicly about it. Nothing. The two years I spent at BC was a great experience. I had a chance to be with a bunch of great kids and coach in the ACC as a head coach. We won a lot of football games with those guys. It was a positive experience. That chapter of my life is closed. I'm moving on. I believe there is a plan for me and my family. That's the plan that I'm living out right now. I don't live in regret. You regret a lot more things you didn't do rather than what you did do."
You were intrigued by going back to the National Football League. "I had the opportunity to talk to one of the top 32 teams that is at the pinnacle of your profession. I didn't see anything wrong with that, but there was a difference in opinion. I did what I thought was best for my family. I don't live in regret. If I didn't do it I would have always wondered what if, and I don't live that way and don't want to live that way. It was a positive experience and they treated me very well up there. Had that not happened I wouldn't have the opportunity to be here right now. I think God has a plan and I'm going to follow that plan."
Do you coach that way, too? "I do. That is not calculated. I just see something on film. We faked four kicks this year and they were successful on all four of them. If you weren't here tomorrow, how would you guys live your life? That's how I try to live my life, and that's the way I try to coach, too. I don't coach not to lose the game, I coach to win it."
When you came to Tampa Bay for the interview how did you sell yourself to Mark Dominik, the Glazers and Raheem Morris? "I didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. I just said that this was the way we would teach it and how I thought we could be successful. That's what I did. What you see is what you're going to get from me. I thought we connected. Yes, X's and O's are important, but a lot of times it is, ‘Can you work with the guy? Do you feel comfortable with him?' That's one of the most important things I learned about being a head coach. You better surround yourself with the best possible people that you can. It wasn't a popularity contest, it was the best possible people."
Is it going to be difficult having been a head coach to now being the offensive coordinator? You were making all the decisions before whereas now you're looking over one particular aspect of the team. "I don't think it's a step back. I will do everything I can to help the Buccaneers win. If I can share some things that can help Raheem I will. That's what a staff is supposed to do. They wouldn't' call it a staff if you could do it all yourself."
Was there any in trepidation about joining a staff with a 32-year-old head coach who has never been a coordinator at the pro level? "No. When did you start being a reporter? Was there any intimidation about that? No, there wasn't. They have 11 and you have 11. That's not going to change. It's just not going to change. I like Raheem. I can understand why an owner would be interested in having him as their head coach. He's a very dynamic guy, he's a down-to-earth guy and I think he's going to surround himself with good people and let them coach."
Which coaches do you think have molded you (at the college and pro level)? "I've been fortunate to be with so many people. I think you form your philosophy around the people you've been around. [Bucs running backs coach] Steve Logan was a guy that I coached with when I was a running backs coach at East Carolina. He was the all-time winningest coach down there. I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot from Jim Mora. I learned a lot from Jimmy. He was a first-time head coach. Mike McCarthy I learned a bunch from. I think you take that and that's how you form your philosophy. There's been a lot of assistant coaches – Sly Croom, who played for Coach [Paul "Bear"] Bryant at Alabama. Mike Archer at LSU. There have just been a bunch of different guys that have shaped who you are as a coach."
Is there anything that any of them ever said about how to run an offense that sticks in your mind? "One thing that my high school coach did say, ‘Don't draw attention to yourself, because if you are, you aren't making enough plays.' I always thought that was pretty profound. If you have to draw attention to yourself to show everybody that you made a play, you aren't making enough of them."
About the wide receiver position: "We have some talent here. I think Antonio [Bryant] is a very good football player. The guys I've seen on film, they've got some guys that can make some plays here. Michael Clayton has made some plays here. There have been a bunch of guys who have made plays here. We're going to discuss that here in the next week or so – about all of it. I just got the chance to evaluate all the film – all the games. I watched every single one of them. We charted things. This guy does this … I'm not going to ask somebody to work on [their] weakness. I think that when you get to that point, [you say] what is their strength? This is the position we're going to put you in with a match-up. That's how we do it."
Can Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant play together on the same field? "I think we can get anybody to play together. I am a big believer in knowing your role and playing together. I'm a big believer in that. There is only one football."
What is your philosophy when it comes to the quarterback position heading into training camp? Do you like to name a starter as soon as possible and build around one guy? "I don't know until I get out there and really, really know what I have. Once we get to that point and we can figure that out, all those roles will be defined. But to answer those questions right now would be unfair to our staff and the organization to say, ‘That's the guy' before I even got a chance to go out and see him. I think that you have a guy you want to go with, but I don't know who that guy is right now."
What is your red zone philosophy other than the fact that you would prefer to score touchdowns? "My idea of a good offensive day is score one more point than we give up. I'm not going to get caught up in stats. My red zone philosophy is ‘touchdown, checkdown.' When you get to that point, I think you need to throw it into the end zone. Whatever that is going to take. If it's not there, check it down. Check downs are okay."
You want to bring four quarterbacks to camp. Is that fourth guy going to be a veteran or a rookie? What do you envision the next guy being? "Until we go to the Combine, until we go through all the free agency stuff, I don't know how I can accurately give you a statement that would hold. We're going to do a lot of evaluating here within the next week, which I'm really looking forward to doing. That's a lot of fun to be able to do that."
Where you a big Packers fan growing up? "Huge – unbelievably huge. I'm from there. I'm from Milwaukee. I was one of the first or second coaches from that state that got to coach in Green Bay. My dad, being a cop, we could never afford tickets. The first time I got to go to a real game I was coaching. I had to get a damn job there to get in the stadium. It was unbelievable. It was a great opportunity. People take so much pride in being a part of that up there. If you are the maintenance guy, you are so proud to be taking care of that stadium. It's totally different up there. That's all there is up there. The stadium is right in the middle of a neighborhood. It was a great experience up there. Great people."
How much do you use the tight end and the fullback in the passing game? "A bunch. A bunch. A bunch. If we have a good match-up, you put the players in a position to succeed by match-ups. I think we have players here that we can do that. I've been fortunate to coach a bunch of tight ends that were Pro Bowl players in Bubba [Franks], [Mark] Chmura and Alge Crumpler. I've had a bunch of different types of guys. We're going to find a way to get those guys the ball."
Will you call plays from the sideline or press box on game days? "Press box. I like to have that view. I'd like to be up in a blimp. We'll have to see if we can get that done."
As the son of a cop, are you a discipline guy? Are you a screamer? How would you describe your coaching style? "They talk about a players' coach. Let me define what a players' coach is. A players' coach is one that is not an accommodator, but is a communicator. Guys will know exactly where I am coming from."